Milwaukee Bucks’ fans got their first look at this year’s team on Thursday night with the team’s training camp scrimmage. And although it’s pretty early along in the camp process, and there’s only so many observations to be made this early, here’s five things that crossed our mind during Thursday’s scrimmage:
1. The Bucks are doing their best to work Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings together as much as possible.
Milwaukee Bucks coach Scott Skiles was open about his intention to put Jennings and Ellis together as much as possible, and true to his word, they’ve been together a lot so far in training camp. They’ve been partners during two-man drills. They’ve been in the same groups, more often than not. And on Thursday night, the pair of guards were on the same team. There’s clearly a concerted effort to put them on the floor at the same time, but training camp certainly hasn’t been long enough to warrant jumping to any conclusions just yet. In Thursday’s scrimmage, Jennings spent a lot of time deferring to his teammates, especially on drive-and-dish plays. And if his teammates can hit those shots, those opportunities will definitely be there this season for the offense.
2. John Henson might be right about his offensive game. It seems a little farther along then some people give him credit for.
At North Carolina, Henson was rarely needed on the offensive end, as guys like Harrison Barnes and Tyler Zeller carried most of the scoring load. And when Henson did get opportunities, it was usually in the post or on some kind of hook shot from around the block. On Thursday night though, Henson got a chance to do something that those who saw him in college didn’t see all that often: he took face-up shots from the perimeter. Skiles said after the scrimmage that he fully expects those shots to be a part of Henson’s game this year, and if he can prove that he has a bit of range, he may find the court more and more as the season goes on. Henson still looks a bit thin, and he’s still clearly adjusting to the NBA game, but showing some progress on offense is a good sign, especially when the Bucks already know they’ll be able to count on his defense.
3. Samuel Dalembert isn’t going to run the floor well, but he’ll clog the middle and pick up rebounds galore.
Watching Samuel Dalembert run up and down the floor doesn’t really scream run-and-gun offense, but when he’s in the paint and under the basket, he’ll definitely be effective this season. He’s not going to wow anyone with his low-post moves or with his ballhandling down low — he caused a few turnovers due to those shortcomings — but he’s definitely something the Bucks didn’t have last year: a big man who can collect rebounds and plug holes down low. Dalembert even got a chance to flash some of his offensive range with a pair of shots around 15 feet from the hoop. There’s no reason to believe that he can’t average around eight points and eight to ten rebounds per game this season.
4. Drew Gooden’s role is uncertain, but as a power forward, he’ll need to be careful of his shot selection.
Gooden spent most of last year playing out of position and trying to help the Bucks from under the hoop and deep in the paint. That’s not quite his bag, but if he’s going to slip back into his role as a power forward, he’s going to have to make sure he’s careful with his shot selection. Ersan Ilyasova is expected to start in front of him, so Gooden’s minutes will diminish somewhat. That means he’ll need to be as efficient as possible with the shots that he does get. In Thursday’s scrimmage, he took a few ill-advised 3-pointers — he did make one, to his credit — and, although he scored quite a bit, it’s a bit unclear how he’s going to be used in the Bucks’ offense, especially with so many big men lobbying for time on the floor.
5. Tobias Harris may just be the real deal.
He started off slowly in the scrimmage, but from the beginning, you could tell that Tobias Harris looked like he’s improved — at least since last year. Then, once Harris really started to use his size and athleticism to his advantage, he was able to manhandle some of the smaller guys who tried to guard him. Matched up with a lot of smaller three-men in the NBA, Harris could really excel. That is, assuming he’s quick enough to guard them on the other end. The true test for Harris will come on defense, where he’s definitely not going to be as quick as some of the other small forwards in the league. But with how well he did on Thursday, it’s not too far-fetched that he could push for the starting job. With Luc Mbah a Moute injured, this is definitely Harris’ time to shine.